Patty Duke (Anna Marie Duke)

Patty Duke

Patty Duke

Her son, actor Sean Aston (Lord of the Rings, Rudy) says he wouldn’t be the man he is today without her. “I am who I am today because of my mom. She was told not to have me. She had me anyway and together we were a team, it was us against the world. She was mistreated horribly in the tabloids. You know, she attracted a lot of attention because of bad behavior. It would later turn out to be bipolar disorder but at the time it was, you know, bad behavior.”

Astin says he’s been absolutely overwhelmed with all the support he’s gotten, and by all the people reaching out to give their condolences. He says today is not a sad day. “You know, I’m happy today. Because she’s not in pain anymore. I’m an actor and when we see our colleagues pass we’re crushed. It’s devastating. But you also get a chance for everyone to celebrate the best of what that person achieved in their life, and today’s my mom’s turn.”

He goes on to say that her life in Coeur d’Alene was important to her, not just because of the mental health advocacy she championed. Even though she moved away from Hollywood, “there is no moment on the Silver Screen,” Astin says, “no experience on the vast expanse on television that is more important to her than the local community theater. It’s just as sacred, she took it just as important as anything else she did.”

Duke leaves behind her close family, which also includes husband Mike. Astin says his step-dad is devastated by her loss because the two were as close as a couple can be. “The truest story for my mom isn’t just her Academy award for Helen Keller or her hundreds of movies of the week or her best-selling book. The truest story for her is her love affair with my step-dad. You can’t find something as powerful or devoted as what those two share.”

Right now the family is deciding how to proceed with funeral arrangements, and whether there will be a public memorial. He’s also started a crowd-sourcing page to help promote some of his mom’s mental health advocacy. The program, called “The Mental Health Project” is seeking $250,000 to raise funds for the Patty Duke Mental Initiative. On the project’s website he writes “this initiative will fuel a multi-level approach to achieving results for those suffering with mental illness, and for their families and communities. Public awareness campaigns, lobbying efforts, and supporting a multitude of mental health programs big and small will be organized, prioritized and vigorously pursued.”


  • December, 14, 1946
  • Elmhurst, New York


  • March, 29, 2016
  • Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Cause of Death

  • Sepsis from a ruptured intestine


  • Forest Cemetery
  • Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

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